2017-08-02 / News

Huffman to be tried first in Hogg case

A ruling handed down in Letcher Circuit Court this week insures that James R. Huffman IV of Pikeville will be the first suspect tried in the January 1, 2014 stabbing death of Michael Hogg in downtown Whitesburg.

In an order entered Tuesday, Special Letcher Circuit Judge Kent Hendrickson cancelled the August 10 trial of the second suspect charged in the case, Patrick C. Smith, also of Pike County, and ruled that Smith’s trial be continued indefinitely pending the completion of Huffman’s trial. The ruling left intact the December 4 trial date for Huffman.

Hendrickson’s latest order was entered after an attorney for Smith filed a motion seeking the continuance. In addition to insuring that Smith won’t be tried before Huffman, who is considered the primary actor in the stabbing of Hogg, the order would also appear to clear the way for Smith to testify for the prosecution during Huffman’s trial without harming his own case.

Smith’s case had been set for trial April 17, but was delayed until August 10 after defense witness Larry C. Stidham was killed in a one-vehicle collision the night before jury selection was to begin. Stidham had a child in common with prosecution witness Samantha Mullins.

Smith, an ex-Marine, is charged with complicity to murder for allegedly holding Hogg down while Huffman allegedly stabbed him once in the chest, once in the throat and six times in the back.

Two other men were injured in the altercation, which occurred near a parking lot on Hayes Street. David Christopher Puckett of Jenkins was stabbed once in the back. Stacy Phillips of Thornton was wounded in the hand. In addition to murder, Huffman is charged with first-degree assault and second-degree assault in relation to those injuries.

Smith is also charged with criminal mischief for allegedly cutting the tires on the Jeep driven by Mullins, in which she, Hogg, Puckett and Phillips were attempting to escape from their attackers. Smith and Huffman were arrested in the parking lot of the Letcher County Recreation Center, where Mullins hid her Jeep and called 911 after determining she could not drive the three men to the hospital because of four flat tires.

Both Huffman and Smith have been held in jail since they were arrested shortly after Hogg was pronounced dead at the Whitesburg hospital. The two men were indicted on February 20, 2014.

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